William S. Dell

William S. Dell was part of the extended Dell-Bonnel family of Quakers who lived on Canandaigua Road [?] in the Township of Waterloo. He lived next door to his younger sister, Deanna, and her husband Charles Bonnel, and he signed the Declaration of Sentiments with their daughter and his niece, Rachel Dell Bonnel, and with his son Thomas Dell. He and Thomas also shared a commitment to anti-slavery. Both signed an anti-slavery petition sent to Congress from Waterloo and Seneca Falls on April 5, 1850.

Born in New Jersey about 1801, William Dell migrated to the Waterloo area with his parents Richard and Rachel Dell and other Quaker families, who formed the core of the Junius Monthly Meeting of Friends. On December 31, 1823, he married Charlotte Dunham, two years his junior, from the Township of Junius in Seneca County. The couple had at least two children. In 1850, the oldest child at home was Thomas, born about 1828. Their youngest was daughter M.S. Dell, aged twelve.

Like many of these Quaker families, the Dell household in 1850 consisted not only of the nuclear family (two parents, William and Charlotte, and two children, Thomas and his twelve-year-old sister MS Dell) but also of other people (including two children with different last names--H.A. Ferguson, a nine-year-old girl, and C.H. Williams, a three-year-old boy, and two farm workers, J. Reuput [?], a twenty-two-year old nurseryman born in Germany, and George Fairweather, a twenty-eight-year old farmer from England).

William and his son Thomas ran a nursery and were active in the Seneca County Agricultural Society. At the Seneca County fair in 1848, William Dell won a diploma and $1.00 for the best "twenty kinds of apples," another twenty-five cents for the best apple seedling, and another diploma and twenty-five cents for the best fruit trees.

William Dell listed the value of his property on the census in 1850 as $7000. When Dun and Bradstreet began to list him in their credit ratings in January 1859, they estimated his worth as $4500 and noted that he was a "sober Quaker [and] ownes [sic] a small farm near this village--encumbered some, he is good I think for small amt." In October 1859, they recorded that he was a "Quaker, good for all he contracts." Entries through January 1866 term him a "good old Quaker," and "honest old Quaker," "a good honest Quaker." In January 1866, he was worth five thousand dollars "a very prudent man." The last entry for August 1866 reads simply "gone away." In fact, William S. Dell had died in 1865. He was buried next to his wife in the Quaker Cemetery in Waterloo.


  • Waterloo Gazette, December 31, 1823, carried a notice of the marriage of William S Dell to Charlotte Dunham.
  • Free Soil Union, November 9, 1848.
  • 1850 Census.
  • Junius Monthly Meeting, Records . . . 1815-1863.
  • Antislavery petition, April 5, 1850.
  • Gravestones in Quaker cemetery.

-Judith Wellman, Historian
Historical New York

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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